British Columbia

Stranger donates $4,200 to care for emaciated dog chained up in the snow

WARNING: This story contains images some may find distressing.

WARNING: This story contains images some may find distressing

The BC SPCA says seven-year-old Handsome is lucky to be alive. (BC SPCA)

An investigation is underway after an emaciated mastiff was rescued from a property in Hope, B.C., earlier this week — but the animal's sad story has taken a turn for the better after a Good Samaritan stepped in to help.

The dog, named Handsome, was "visibly shaking" when he was found chained outside in the snow on Wednesday, according to the B.C. SPCA. 

The animal welfare organization said he was weighed down by a heavy chain, with a bucket of frozen water and a thin wooden doghouse nearby. A statement said the shelter didn't have insulation or bedding and was surrounded by ice.

The SPCA said Handsome is "lucky to be alive."

"He's so thin, his bones are clearly visible, with very little to no body ... fat, the dog is unable to maintain its body heat," said senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever.

The SPCA says the mastiff was tethered outside, surrounded by ice and snow. A bucket of frozen ice and a thin, wooden, uninsulated doghouse was nearby. (BC SPCA)

Drever said Handsome was rushed to the vet, who gave him a body condition score of one out of a possible nine.

"That is nowhere near healthy for any dog, let alone one who was left outside in extremely cold weather without access to adequate shelter," she said.

"We rescue thousands of animals from heartbreaking situations every year at the SPCA, but cases like this are particularly shocking."

The seven-year-old dog's vet bills and rehabilitation costs are expected to top $4,000 — but on Friday, a business owner from Langley donated $4,200 to cover the expenses.

Kyle Chester said he made a spur-of-the-moment decision after hearing Handsome's story on the radio.

"There's so many times you feel you can be charitable but then the moment passes. ... This time, luckily, someone responded," he said Friday.

SPCA spokesman Shawn Eccles said the offer was "phenomenal" and "absolutely incredible."

"Our officers are out there doing our jobs and they'll always do it no matter what, but you do get disillusioned ... but this [donation] just reaffirms your faith in people."

Chester said he hopes the donation gives those workers a much-needed boost.

"These guys do so much," he said of SPCA staff. "When all these volunteers hear about it, they feel vindicated and rejuvenated to carry on the fight against animal abuse." 

The SPCA said it will likely recommend charges of animal cruelty against Handsome's former owner.